Growing Your Financial Advisory Practice | Insights for Financial Advisors, Planners and Investment Managers
031: Keeping your clients happy while navigating transitions in your business
You’re a pro at helping clients handle change in their financial plans, but how can you navigate major transitions in your own business? As an entrepreneur and advisor, you have to continue to give clients excellent service even during times of change; today’s guest is very familiar with this professional challenge.
Jim Greenwood is a Managing Partner at Blue Sky Lasting Wealth. A CFP with 25 years of experience, he most recently transitioned to IPC Securities and founded BlueSky Lasting Wealth. Listen to the episode to hear what Jim has to say about managing changes — both in your career and in the industry.
What You’ll Learn in This Episode:
- How Jim is handling major changes to his business (1:25)
- How Jim got into wealth management — and how the landscape is different today (4:10)
- Meeting high service standards with amazing communication (7:00)
- Approaching transition and succession plans (13:40)
- How a financial plan is like a marathon (16:05)
- The most difficult aspect of advising clients — and how to overcome it (19:50)
- Combatting clients’ number one concern about referring you to their friends (24:10)
Links and Resources:
Quotes by Jim:
“Our clients recognize the need for professionals or specialists in all areas of their life – doctors, accountants, mechanics, you name it – and we are that person for them when it comes to their financial situation.”
“I didn’t necessarily identify exactly what I wanted to do, but I knew what I didn’t want to do, and that was be in some sort of unionized or corporate situation where all of the hard work I do wouldn’t really be reflected in my level of success.”
“I think too many people who might want to call themselves entrepreneurs or businesspeople are afraid to take chances.”
Jim not only has 25 years of experience in the business — he is also in the thick of some major changes in his practice, including moving to a new office, transitioning to serve more and more high net worth clients, and working with another advisor on a succession plan. Today he’s sharing his advice for keeping your clients happy while navigating major transitions in your business.
Below, we’re sharing three key ideas from this episode:
- How Jim got into wealth management — and how the landscape is different today
- Prioritizing values during a succession
- Meeting high service standards with amazing communication
For the rest of the episode, find the podcast on iTunes or Stitcher, or hit the link above.
How Jim got into wealth management — and how the landscape is different today
Jim has always been interested in the financial services industry and always thought he would be an accountant — until he did a work term with an accounting firm and hated it.
During his co-op terms, he realized he wanted to be self-employed. “I didn’t necessarily identify exactly what I wanted to do,” he says, “but I knew what I didn’t want to do, and that was be in some sort of unionized or corporate situation where all of the hard work I do wouldn’t really be reflected in my level of success.”
Eventually, this led him to financial planning.
Starting out as an advisor today
Jim recalls his time starting out as an advisor wasn’t easy. But he sees that today, the barriers to entry, and in particular the expenses of being in the business, are even higher.
So when people ask him how they can get started as advisors, he doesn’t recommend doing what he did.
Instead, he suggests that aspiring independent advisors start their careers at a bank or an insurance company, or work for another advisor, to experience the business and get their credentials while earning a salary.
Hint: To hear another perspective on starting out in the business by working in an adjacent industry, listen to our interview with Jason Pereira on how to compete and win in the Canadian HNW segment (his advice for new advisors starts 42 minutes into the episode).
Prioritizing values during a succession
Jim and his staff are currently working on a succession plan to help another advisor, Grant, transition out of the business over five years. They’re spending the next year and a half combining their clients and staff.
The shift is bringing up a lot of questions for Jim and his team. But he’s focused on two priorities:
- He’s serious about the level of service he provides, and he wants to make sure he can keep doing it — in fact, he wants to increase the quality of service he’s already providing clients.
- He’s “fiercely protective” of his and his staff’s time — and their free time in particular. He doesn’t want anybody to be constantly working overtime to keep the practice running.
These two competing interests mean that Jim and his team need to make some hard choices. They need to very carefully and explicitly define everyone’s roles. And even with additional staff, they’re realizing that they can only really serve 250 clients well (which is how many they currently serve). This means that they will inevitably have to let some clients go — any more, and they would either have to work more or cut down on service levels.
Meeting high service standards with amazing communication
One of the main ways Jim offers such a high level of service is through excellent communication with his clients. You’ve probably already heard that the main reason clients leave their advisors is because of a lack of communication, and Jim wants to take that issue off the table.
Keeping in touch with so many clients can be a struggle, so Jim has made it as painless and automatic as possible. He segmented his client base, determined how often he should meet with clients in each segment, and broke down how many meetings he needs to do every week to fit everyone in — then, it’s up to his assistant to fill those meeting times with clients.
Additionally, he’s decided to check in a certain number of times with each segment of clients — he calls some once a quarter and others once a year. Every month, he gets a list of clients to call and makes his way through the list over the course of the month.
Proactive communication: The “wow experience”
Jim never wants a client to feel like they need to check in with him because they think something is wrong. So recently, his office started a new initiative around proactive communication to really go above and beyond.
For example, pension transfers can often take weeks to complete, but no new client wants to be waiting for weeks or even months with no word, wondering if Jim has forgotten about them. Instead, his assistant sends them an update every Friday to let them know where the transfer is at, so they don’t have to worry.
Regular contact: A fine balance
In addition to the above initiatives, Jim’s clients get a Blue Sky Bulletin every other month with updates about the market and other information they may find valuable. His head office also sends out an automated newsletter.
However, Jim is thinking he’s going to cancel the newsletter — he doesn’t want his clients getting so inundated with information that they don’t open the important emails.
Good communication is always a matter of balance: sharing high-quality, relevant information that people actually find valuable.
Hint: How can you more easily automate communication with clients? Whether it’s setting up automatic reminders to check in with certain clients or sending out a newsletter or bulletin, there are plenty of opportunities to make it simpler for yourself.
We’re sure you want to hear more from Jim, so listen to the full episode where he talks about overcoming the most difficult aspect of advising clients, combating the number one concern around referrals, and more. You can find the show here on this page or, better yet, subscribe on iTunes or Stitcher so you don’t miss any episodes.
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